By KIRK SWAUGER
The cash-strapped Johnstown Business District Coalition, whose director has been foregoing his salary to keep the program alive, has received a grant from a group of high-powered business executives.
Greater Johnstown Committee has given the coalition $25,000, said Richard Dill, the coalition’s executive director and Main Street manager in Johnstown.
"It certainly helps to alleviate some of the financial burden the organization has been under," Dill said. "It puts us in a better position to be confident of our future."
The grant is geared toward economic development activities, allowing other money to be freed for the day-to-day operations of the coalition and Main Street program.
Because of staff cutbacks, the coalition canceled the city’s annual Great Scarecrow contest in Central Park earlier this week.
The coalition’s financial woes stem in part from the longer-than-expected completion of Central Park Complex. Now, with lease revenue from the office building starting to come in, the coalition is laying a more stable furcation, Dill said.
Dill expects the coalition to collect $15,000 to $20,000 in rent from Central Park Complex. It also is counting on a $20,000 grant from the state Department of Community and Economic Development, up to $25,000 in fund-raising and $15,000 to $20,000 in sponsorship revenue from special events to meet next year’s projected $75,000 budget.
Dill said in June he would forgo his $50,000-a-year salary until the end of the year.
"While we’ve had faith that we could get through this — otherwise, I wouldn’t be sticking around — it made it a lot harder to plan for the future," he said.
"I think this grant is a vote of confidence in some of the achievements and successes we’ve had here over the past three or four years. It puts us in a position to know that the organization is going to be viable over the long haul."
Greater Johnstown Committee members, including Mayor Don Zucco and committee Chairman Russ Gramlich, could not be reached for comment.
Used with permission of The Tribune-Democrat
Kirk Swauger is a feature writer for the Tribune-Democrat
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